All posts tagged: Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre / Hong Kong / Jun 11, 2022 / Ernest Wan / In the programme of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s César Franck at 200 concert, it is baffling to see, amid a pair of works by the French composer born two centuries ago in what is today Belgium, the utterly irrelevant Viola Concerto by the Hungarian Béla Bartók. This is especially odd considering that just the previous month the orchestra presented an all-Felix Mendelssohn programme, even though it never mentioned the 175th anniversary of the composer’s death; and that just last year it was engaged by another organisation to play not one but two programmes devoted exclusively to music by Camille Saint-Saëns, marking his death a century before. That said, anyone who manages for a moment to refrain from pondering the context ought to feel grateful that the Bartók concerto gets performed at all. The composer left only sketches when he died in 1945, from which his former student Tibor Serly put together what would for decades remain the …

Sebastian Fagerlund 施巴斯坦‧費格倫特

Höstsonaten / Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre / Hong Kong / Oct 18–19, 2019 / Ernest Wan / Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s Höstsonaten (Autumn Sonata, 1978) made its way to the operatic stage two years ago, when a two-act opera of the same title, with a screenplay-turned-libretto by Gunilla Hemming and a score for solo singers, choir and full orchestra by Sebastian Fagerlund – both Finns who regularly work in the Swedish language – was produced in Helsinki. This production was recently presented in Hong Kong by the government’s World Cultures Festival, of which this year’s theme was The Nordics. On this occasion, the music was performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Malmö Opera Chorus and a cast of Scandinavian soloists, under the leadership of Swedish conductor Patrik Ringborg. The story tells of the unhappy reunion between Eva, who lives with her husband Viktor in his vicarage, and her visiting mother Charlotte, a successful touring pianist whom she has not seen for seven years. Charlotte’s egotistical pursuits have resulted in a long-standing neglect of …

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra

Concert Hall / Hong Kong Cultural Centre / Feb 21, 2019 / Ernest Wan / This year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival opened with the local debut of Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and the US’s Marin Alsop, in her final season as its music director. Four works that are completely unrelated to one another made up the concert programme, presumably a showcase for the versatility of both orchestra and conductor. The tactic would have been more successful had the selection of works been better thought out. Prokofiev’s light, cheery neoclassical First Symphony (1917) began the concert and fared best, with various details clearly audible, thanks to the fine orchestral balance and the moderate tempi employed in all four movements. But the third of these, a gavotte, suffered from very mannered ritardandi on the upbeats, which greatly impeded the flow of the dance rhythm, a problem that was to resurface later in the evening. Next was Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (1810s), with mainland China’s Ning Feng joining in as the soloist. His confidence in his mastery of the dazzling range …